Everybody knows that when it comes to getting massive quads, hammies and booty, squats are the best exercises to do!
Whether you are training your legs for tone, mass or strength, squats are the single most productive exercise you can include in your workouts. Many variations for this exercise exist, and they can be performed with several types of resistance ranging from your body weight or resistance bands to heavy dumbbells and barbells loaded with hundreds of pounds. For those serious about training their legs, the two most popular variations of this exercise are the traditional barbell back squats and front squats.
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In strength training and fitness, the squat is a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks, Quadriceps Femoris Muscle, hamstrings, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body. Squats are considered a vital exercise for increasing the strength and size of the legs and buttocks, as well as developing core strength. Isometrically, the lower back, the upper back, the abdominals, the trunk muscles, the costal muscles, and the shoulders and arms are all essential to the exercise and thus are trained when squatting with the proper form.
Yeah, but there is a debate going on, what’s better? Back squats VS front squats, the trial!
The regular, back squat is the most natural way to squat and allows the use of more weight, which can lead to greater muscle growth. Because most people are unaccustomed to doing them, front squats may not allow for the use of as much weight as regular squats. Placing the bar on the front of the body changes the biomechanics, offering different benefits from the regular squat.
Let’s learn more about the front squat, and then the back squat:
The Back Squat: With a weight-loaded barbell resting across the back of your shoulders, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the bar with both hands. Shift your weight into your heels and squat down until the tops of your thighs are just below the tops of your knees. Drive your heels downward into the floor and extend your legs until you are standing upright again. Keep your core braced and your back straight throughout the entire movement.
The back squat is the single greatest mass-building exercise, and it is a full-body compound movement. The quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus muscles, erector spinae, gastrocnemius, soleus, adductor and abdominal muscles all are trained with this one exercise. Back squats can be performed with light weight for toning and definition or heavier weight for both mass-building and power-building goals. Regardless of an individual’s fitness goals, back squats often are considered by athletes and trainers to be the quintessential leg exercise.
The Front Squat: This exercise is best performed inside a squat rack for safety purposes. To begin, first set the bar on a rack that best matches your height. Once the correct height is chosen and the bar is loaded, bring your arms up under the bar while keeping the elbows high and the upper arm slightly above parallel to the floor. Rest the bar on top of the deltoids and cross your arms while grasping the bar for total control. Lift the bar off the rack by first pushing with your legs and at the same time straightening your torso. Step away from the rack and position your legs using a shoulder width medium stance with the toes slightly pointed out. Keep your head up at all times as looking down will get you off balance and also maintain a straight back. This will be your starting position.
Begin to slowly lower the bar by bending the knees as you maintain a straight posture with the head up. Continue down until the angle between the upper leg and the calves becomes slightly less than 90-degrees (which is the point in which the upper legs are below parallel to the floor). Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Begin to raise the bar as you exhale by pushing the floor mainly with the middle of your foot as you straighten the legs again and go back to the starting position. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
While front squats do not target the hamstrings and gluteus muscles as directly as back squats, they do focus the training on all three heads of the quadriceps. For this reason, many strength athletes perform front squats as an auxiliary exercise. Another advantage of the front squat is that, since the barbell is supported in front of the neck, the torso remains more vertical, placing less stress on the lower back. However, some athletes feel that supporting the barbell on the front of the shoulders is either uncomfortable or even painful.
Conclusion: What’s better? Front squats VS Back squats?! They are good all together. Use the back squat as your major lower-body mass builder. However, if you need to prioritize quads, use the front squat as well. Your best bet is to start with back squats and then include a few sets of front squats. If knee problems prevent you from doing back squats, give front squats a try.